Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced that a majority of the serious community related crimes – which are dependent on police detection – have recorded a decrease over the past decade.
Releasing crime statistics for the financial year 2016/17 to the Portfolio Committee on Police on Tuesday, the Minister said, however, contact crimes like murder and robbery remain stubbornly high.
He sent a stern warning to gang lords and violent criminals, saying their exploits will be matched with a proportional response to the nature of the violence they dish out.
“The 17 community-related serious crimes have continually decreased during the last half of the 10-year period, from 2007/08 to 2016/17, under consideration.
“However, the contact crime figures, which generally recorded a fairly consistent decrease during the first [half] of the 10-year period under discussion, have increased over the preceding three financial years.
“In the financial year under review, a reversal is observed and an increase was recorded. Despite the decrease in this financial year, some of the individual categories, such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, have over the past four financial years tended to reflect an upward trend,” he said.
The Minister said crime statistics were an important tool to measure crime patterns and assisted in crime prevention strategies. In this regard, the SA Police Service have entered into a partnership with Statistics South Africa to give statistics more integrity.
“We simply cannot fight against an enemy we do not understand. We get to understand the patterns, the occurrences and types of crimes through the statistics so that we may plan accordingly. The integrity of crime statistics is very important and the public must trust that no clever accounting has been done,” he said.
However, figures should not only be taken as raw data, as they represent “human lives and human emotions”.
“Crime involves high emotions. We must not see statistics purely as numbers. Behind the numbers are real feelings, real lives, real harm, real losses, hurt and feelings of [being unsafe].
“These statistics represent the memory of that gruesome rape or murder, the fearful home invasion. People are losing their children to heinous crimes and drug dens. Our people have no-go areas due to criminality. I acknowledge that our people live under siege from crime.”
The Minister said there was no time to waste in tackling crime, which was delivering terror and harming people and the economy.
Communities urged to be involved in fight against crime
Releasing some of the key statistics, the Minister said there was a need to involve society in campaigns against substance and alcohol abuse, which are among the factors behind crime.
Of the 2.1 million serious crimes were recorded, 1.7 million were community-reported serious crimes.
“The latter [community-reported serious crimes] dropped by 1.8% compared to the 2015/ 16 financial year.
“This decrease was driven mainly by a reduction in all the broad crime categories, namely contact related crime (-3.3%), contact crime (-2.4%), other serious crimes (-2.0%) and property-related crime (-0.5%).”
The Minister urged the men and women in blue to increase policing, saying more could be done to arrest crime.
“The public must be proactively involved in efforts to fight crime. Crime should be addressed by all of us as an issue of national interest and priority. We must not score political points over this issue…”
He said to bring down crime is in the country’s national interest. Crime affects everyone, said the Minister, citing the example the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi,who could not attend the release of the crime statistics because his nephew was stabbed to death in Khayelitsha.
Murder on the rise
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Norman Sekhukhune said despite a decrease in community-related crimes, murder remained a challenge.
Murder was up by 1.8% during the 2016/ 17 financial year compared to an increase of 4.9% in the previous year.
He said sexual offences were down by -4.3% when compared to 2015/ 16 (-3.2%). Attempted murder went up by 0.4% in the current financial year, while assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm went down by -6.7%. Aggravated robbery went up by 6.4% while common assault and common robbery went down by -5.2% and -1.3% respectively. – SAnews.gov.za